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Sierra Nevada is taking the United Nations to space in 2021

It's the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs' first actual mission.
Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon
September 29, 2016
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Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser might not have won NASA's space taxi contract, but at least it's taking the United Nations to orbit. The spacecraft, which resembles NASA's old Space Shuttles, will launch the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs' first actual mission in 2021, 59 years after the division was established. It's meant to give developing nations without a space program the chance to send experiments and other payloads outside our planet, though any UN member can apply for a spot on the vehicle. UNOOSA will even offer technical assistance to countries that have no experience developing microgravity payloads.

UNOOSA director Simonetta Di Pippo said in a statement:

"One of UNOOSA's core responsibilities is to promote international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space. I am proud to say that one of the ways UNOOSA will achieve this, in cooperation with our partner SNC, is by dedicating an entire microgravity mission to United Nations Member States, many of which do not have the infrastructure or financial backing to have a standalone space program."

The UN will choose submissions in 2018, and countries whose projects are selected will have to pay part of the mission's total bill. Sierra Nevada officials said poorer nations will likely a get a price break, though. Plus, the Office for Outer Space Affairs is currently looking for sponsors to ensure participants will pay the least amount possible.

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